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[Alcohol Action Ireland] What is the Public Health (Alcohol) Act? (05 Jun 2019)

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The Public Health (Alcohol) Act is legislative framework designed to tackle Ireland’s harmful relationship with alcohol. It aims to reduce the damage that alcohol causes to individuals, families and society by reducing our alcohol consumption, with a particular focus on protecting children and young people from alcohol harm.


This legislation is part of a range of measures planned under the Healthy Ireland framework, which will work together to improve our health and wellbeing, both as individuals and as a nation. Its goal is to reduce our per capita alcohol consumption in Ireland from 11 litres to 9.1 litres for every person aged 15 and over by 2020 and to reduce alcohol harm. Reducing alcohol consumption across the population will reduce alcohol harm.


Ireland has a high level of alcohol consumption and amongst the highest rate of binge drinking in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The goal of 9.1 litres would bring us more in line with our OECD counterparts and reduce alcohol harm, although our alcohol consumption would still be well above the global average (6.2 litres), with Europe by far the heaviest drinking region in the world. If Ireland were to follow the HSE low-risk drinking of alcohol guidelines (11 standards for women or 17 standard units for men), our consumption rate would be 40% lower than our current level of 11.15 (2017) litres per capita.


This legislation treats our ongoing problem with alcohol misuse as the serious public health problem it is for the first time and will ensure that alcohol is no longer treated as just another ordinary commodity or grocery, but is regulated effectively to reduce alcohol harm in Ireland and improve public health, safety and wellbeing.


Learn more about the Public Health (Alcohol) Act, 2018 by following this link.


The Bill was introduced into the Irish parliament in December 2015 and completed all stages of parliamentary debate in October 2018, when it was signed by the President and accordingly became law.


The Minister for Health on 1st November 2018, signed the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 (Commencement) Order 2018, to commence 23 sections of the Public Health Alcohol Bill into operation.


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